Chinese Naming Conventions [naming characters] Aug 3, 2013 21:56:47 GMT -6
Post by 媽祖 on Aug 3, 2013 21:56:47 GMT -6
It begins, in brief:
A modern Chinese usually has (1) a surname ("family name") or xìng 姓 and (2) a given name ("first name" or "Christian name"), or míng 名 (or míngzi 名字), always in that order. Thus Dèng Xiǎopíng is Mr. Dèng with the personal name Xiǎopíng the same way John Jones is Mr. Jones with the personal name John.
Some Chinese writers in English reverse the order and put the family name last in order to conform to English usage: Xiaoping Deng. This confuses things when the surname and given name are not distinctive enough to be able to be sure which is which. For example, since both Chiao and Chien are possible spellings of Chinese surnames, it took me some years before I knew whether anthropologist Chiao Chien (Pinyin: Qiáo Jiàn) was Dr. Chiao or Dr. Chien. It didn't help that I saw it in both orders. In Europe, where surnames are often written in capital letters, it is less of a problem: CHIAO Chien is clearly Dr. Chiao.
Nearly always the family name (surname) is one-syllable long. The only common modern surnames that are two-syllables long are Ōuyáng and Sīmǎ. Occasional people have two surnames, usually written in English as two words: Wáng Xú.
Usually (but not always) the given name is two syllables long, and sometimes a group of siblings or even cousins will share the first (or sometimes second) syllable of their given names. Dèng Xiǎopíng, Dèng Liáopíng, and Dèng Guópíng, for example, would almost certainly be brothers or cousins.
Continued reading here.